Our Views: New tests on the way

A good percentage of the members of the Legislature are small-business people or have professional backgrounds working in larger businesses. They are supposed to have basic understandings of how organizations work; as legislators, too, they are supposed to be a “board of directors” for the multifaceted organization called state government.

But just let a bit of politics cause a Capitol ruckus, and it’s as if lawmakers lose touch with administrative reality.

That is the case with the bills this year attacking the new tests that Louisiana, in cooperation with other states, is writing to reflect the new and higher academic standards called Common Core.

Blow up those tests, and what do students take in the coming school year?

As it turns out, there is no realistic alternative to the new tests, because the transition to Common Core standards has been under way for several years.

One state, Indiana, has decided to withdraw from Common Core standards and related tests. Two things happened: Millions of dollars were spent producing a “local” set of standards and tests that were really about the same thing as Common Core.

And another thing happened: The anti-Common Core dissidents weren’t satisfied with the changes. So the politicians pandering to the anti-crowd got no appreciation, but in fact blowback from Common Core critics.

We don’t want an Indiana debacle here.

So far, the line has been held against bills that block adoption of Common Core and the new tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Yet blocking the new tests, already administered as sample tests in the school year now winding up, is still on the agenda of Common Core opponents. Lawmakers ought to reject those in the last few weeks of the session ending June 2.

Efforts to delay the new tests, referring them to yet another committee for study, is pushed as financial responsibility, because new statewide tests are expensive. But as an administrative matter, what will teachers use if the PARCC tests are taken off the educational calendar?

“PARCC is the fiscally responsible choice for Louisiana,” Brigitte Nieland, of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, recently told the Appropriations Committee. “This (delay) bill is more about death by delay than fiscal responsibility.”

She is right, and the House panel rejected the proposal to block PARCC tests.

“It is indeed ironic that the unions, school boards and superintendents associations that have paid lip-service to their desire to see higher standards in our classrooms have supported every effort to scuttle them,” commented the Council for a Better Louisiana, a backer of Common Core.

“They all represent those we entrust the education of our children to, but they have all put their own adult interests ahead of the kids they’re supposed to serve.”

We urge lawmakers to avoid the administrative disruption that would follow from a precipitous withdrawal from Common Core and its new tests.